'Looper' Review By Bryan Yentz
... Spawned from a strange tryst between THE TERMINATOR, TWELVE MONKEYS and TIME CRIMES, LOOPER is a maelstrom of ideas both old and new which converge into a single vision of hand-hammering, limb-severing, telekinetic-smashing madness...
In the future, time travel is developed as quickly as it's outlawed. Now, the only people in service of it are the mob who utilize such a temporal convenience for assassinations. When they need a meat-bag gone, they warp them back to the year 2044 where a hired "Looper" (there's the title!) kills them with a custom blunderbuss and disposes of the body. In such a bleak future, Joseph-Gordon Levitt plays "Joe", a junkie who regularly visits the brothel and who has little-to-no issue selling out his friends and putting bullets in bodies. . . That is until his newest oblation turns out to be his future self (Bruce Willis). As to avoid informing where the story actually goes, I won't say anymore. . . But put it this way, I didn't even foresee where Mr. Johnson would bend this game of cat and mouse. Yes, that statement is marked by hubris, but oh well. . .
Coming from the brilliant mind of Rian Johnson (the writer/director of the excellent BRICK), LOOPER is nearly everything one could hope for in an adult-themed science-fiction film. It's brutal, clever, thrilling, and most importantly, human. Seemingly spawned from a strange tryst between THE TERMINATOR, TWELVE MONKEYS and TIME CRIMES, LOOPER is a maelstrom of ideas both old and new which converge into a single vision of hand-hammering, limb-severing, telekinetic-smashing madness. As with many a film that deals with the trials and tribulations of time travel, LOOPER is flawed, but its positives far outweigh such minimal negatives and fail to hinder a vision of epic proportions.
I'll be honest, when LOOPER first began making strides with its production diaries and trailers, I found the entire endeavor to reek of unentitled self-worth, Hollywood flash and pretension. That, and the makeup/prosthetic effects on Levitt made him appear as delicate and fake as a porcelain doll. However, sometimes, dear readers, I can be wrong--I know, I know, it's crazy--but some of us--even me--are not perfect and, on occasion, do make mistakes. LOOPER didn't just prove my cynical hypothesis wrong, it went to the future, slapped my future self and he then returned the favor to me. I'm not sure how, but LOOPER succeeded in not only getting an R-rating, but was also allowed the freedom from studio supervision to ACTUALLY have genuine conflict, ballsy material (Willis' "mission", anyone?) and broken characters that don't exactly fit the heroic bill. Really, this flick feels SO un-Hollywood that I find it amazing that half the material wasn't cut and someone as limp as Kristen Stewart plugged into every other scene so as to gain a PG-13 audience. LOOPER lifts itself above the festering pack of mainstream copycats by being exactly what it is: a dark tragedy revolving around tormented people and the evils they cause due to a Machiavellian sense of determination, "The ends justify the means".
As if jumping ahead in time to see what would and wouldn't work in his film, Rian Johnson has committed himself to ensuring that nearly every facet of his creation is finely cut and tuned. From the abrupt screams of a victim being forced back through time to a resounding gunshot ricocheting within the confines of a steel room; The sound design is ear-puncturing perfection. Static shots of golden fields suddenly violated by chunks of fleshy red; energetic camera tricks and maneuvers that follow a flailing body out of a fire escape and depict the bloody repercussions of unbridled fury with restraint and flair. Fantastic and realistic performances are delivered from every actor involved and provide an uncanny amount of depth, sympathy and empathy for each. Due to such ingrained characterization, LOOPER is at once three stories all wrapped in a single, unified whole. This isn't a simple observation of good versus evil; it's a tale in which one can understand, love and detest the actions of each personality, while wanting to see them all succeed at the same time.
I screened LOOPER about two weeks ago, but each successive viewing has lent more appreciation. This isn't a quick cash-in. This isn't a movie of the week. It's not a flick off of the Hollywood conveyor belt. This is a film of true passion, ingenuity and audacity developed by people (namely a director) with an obvious love for the genre. While some issues with time travel and its continuity furrowed my brow (POSSIBLE SPOILERS***specifically one scene half way through that hints at a third time zone which goes unspecified and could be viewed as a convenient plot hole***END SPOILER), I was nonetheless able to suspend my disbelief because of just how damn well everything else came together. Sorry kids, this ain't time-travel by TWILIGHT; sorry Hollywood , it's not a money-grubbing PG-13 expose of stupidity; sorry mainstream moviegoer, because this movie doesn't cater or pander; and a sorry from me, the one who thought it would consist of all of the latter problems. Not since DISTRICT 9 has celluloid of this nature held my attention, fascination and heart as much as LOOPER did. At the end of such a wormhole, it isn't just a great film; it's one of the best science-fiction films of recent memory and deserves to be remembered as such.